After gaining fame in January during the college football championship game, Katherine Webb is making another "Splash" -- this time, into a diving pool.
The former Miss Alabama is joining nine other celebrities in ABC's new diving competition, premiering Tuesday, March 19, at 8 PM.
It's been a whirlwind year so far for Webb, who was Miss Alabama 2012 and a top 10 finisher in the Miss USA competition. But her fame grew exponentially when announcers pointed her out at the championship game cheering on boyfriend A.J. McCarron, the quarterback for the University of Alabama. Her popularity grew even more when she appeared in the 2013 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
We recently chatted with Webb about her meteoric rise, the dangers of diving, and which celeb will be her toughest competition.
This diving thing seems so crazy! Why did you want to do it?
I know, so crazy! But it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up … me being able to show America who I really am, past the hair and makeup and being in a swimsuit.
What about diving interested you?
It was just so inspirational to me because I've watched the U.S. Olympics on television and how they dive. I've watched "Dancing With the Stars" for years, and so I knew it would be something along the lines of that -- learning how to do something new and still being athletic, which is definitely me. I was really excited about it.
Since you're athletic, did diving come naturally to you?
I grew up playing outside with my brothers and my sister. I was never a girly girl growing up, and I played softball for seven years. ... It wasn't very difficult for me to be a risk taker and be a daredevil and go after things. So I found it easy for me. The only difficult part has been balancing my personal schedule with my work schedule.
What was your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is obviously getting hurt, because the water … everyone thinks that the water is soft to land in, until you get up high in the air and you end up landing on your face or your back or stomach, and you come out of the water and you're stinging all over.
Did you have any close calls? What about the other contestants?
I've seen some of the other contestants get hurt. Chuy [Bravo] got hurt, in rehearsals, but it's not water related. I've seen Ndamukong Suh bust his lip at the bottom of the pool. And then I've just seen others belly-flop or land wrong and end up hurting themselves.
Were you worried at all about having a swimsuit malfunction?
Well, throughout training, I started in a two-piece, just because that's what I've usually worn to pools. And then throughout training, I slowly [changed] to a long-sleeved fitness shirt and workout pants [laughs]. But yeah, I'm wearing a one-piece in the competition.
What were the biggest lessons you learned from the pro divers, like Greg Louganis?
Just really controlling your thoughts and getting over your fears. A lot of the dives, they tell you to jump off really close to the diving board, so there's always a fear that you're going to hit the diving board on the way down, but you really just have to trust what they say because they're the pros and they've done this before.
Who's your toughest competition?
I honestly think that Drake Bell is going to win. Drake Bell could be an actual diver if he wanted to. He works so hard at it, and he puts everything he has into it. His form is impeccable.
Have you trained a lot with the other celebrities?
Yeah, I've been able to train with a lot of the other celebs. They're all great -- I love each and every one of them. They are all different in their own way, and it was really fun getting to know them on a personal level.
Will your boyfriend, A.J. McCarron, be able to come cheer you on?
He has a stiff practice schedule back at Alabama, so he's trying to work it out to where he can come see me. But if not, then I totally understand.
How have you handled this whirlwind of fame this year?
Whirlwind is almost an understatement! Everything was thrown on me all at once. It's been a ride trying to learn how to handle it all. But I work with an amazing team and a great support system, and I've gotten through it. And I'm so proud of where I am now.
What's next after "Splash"?
Well, I am missing home pretty bad, so I will be moving home and then working out of the state and traveling and going to different things whenever I need to. I really want to get involved in doing charity work and giving back, because that's what I'm most passionate about.
What causes are really close to your heart?
When I was Miss Alabama, during my reign, I was able to go around and speak to young girls about what it's like to grow up and have self-esteem and confidence issues, and the pressures of growing up in the world now, especially with the misconstrued image that the entertainment industry brings along with that. So I'm so passionate about that, and I really want to partner with Make a Wish Foundation. I just want to find opportunities to coach girls any way that I can. There's nothing I love more than making an impact in someone's life and seeing someone smile and brightening their days.
Webb talks about her friendship with Kate Upton:
"Splash" airs Tuesdays at 8 PM on ABC.